Hoist allows access for all into caravans

A north Northumberland man has branched out from what he knows best, launching a new business at the age of 68.

The product, which allows wheelchair users to access a motor home or caravan without the need for modification, was developed by the pair five-and-a-half years ago.

When Jim’s wife Carol was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, they didn’t want their touring holidays to stop but it became more and more difficult.

“It was never built as a commercial venture,” said John. “It was built out of necessity.”

Jim and Carol have since travelled all over the place using the lift and, according to John, they have ‘had some good holidays that they wouldn’t have had otherwise’.

Now the Belford Transfer Lift is going to market following the suggestion from someone at Business Link and investment from Northstar Ventures.

So far this year, the brothers have travelled to trade shows in Newark, Chepstow, Peterborough and Birmingham to demonstrate the product.

Next up is the Mobility Roadshow in Peterborough this month, which John thinks will be an ideal place to showcase the transfer lift.

John has a demonstration model that he takes to shows, as well as the prototype which is fitted to his brother’s motorhome.

“They get to see how it works, and it certainly works that’s for sure,” said John.

“And the best thing is that you don’t have to alter the vehicle, so if you sell it you can sell it as a standard caravan or motorhome.”

Motorhomes fitted out for disabled people can cost in the region of £100,000, while the Belford Transfer Lift is available for £4,995 including fitting to the vehicle.

And for anyone who is registered disabled it’s VAT-free.

“We have actually got a patent application in and they are saying there’s nothing like it anywhere in the world.

“The interest has been absolutely great, but it’s now about converting a brand new item into sales.

“We are looking into advertising and marketing now.”

The company has also had interest from the NHS with regards for its use by carers and other workers.

John, who is in his comfort zone running Belford MOT Centre, is relishing the new challenge though.

“I have learnt a lot since we started the shows,” he said.

“The main thing is that you have to be sensitive and be careful about what you say. Everyone’s different.

“It was hard work at the show at the NEC in Birmingham but in a strange way I really enjoyed it.

“When they opened the doors on the first day, it was like a stampede.”

For more information, visit www.belfordtransferlift.com